Less than a year ago, Apple's redesigned Air took the world by storm, and that was with an ancient Core 2 Duo CPU. Now they've added second-gen Intel Core and cut the price too.
After months of rumours and speculation (and not a little amount of heated fanboy anticipation), Apple today announced its new revamped MacBook Air range with second-gen Intel Core CPUs, on order from today and available in store tomorrow.
Arguably the single-most eagerly anticipated Mac launch item this year (alongside the company's other big hardware releases, notably iPad 2 and iPhone 5), the new MacBook Air features Intel's second-generation Core "Sandy Bridge" CPUs, plus Thunderbolt connectivity, a backlit keyboard and the just-released-today Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
The bump up in processor is a significant boost for the Air, for while the 2010 redesign (which featured SSD-only storage and introduced a new entry-level 11.6-inch form factor alongside the established 13.3-inch model) was well received for its speedy performance and chic design, a broadly perceived detraction was the inclusion of the relatively ancient Core 2 Duo CPUs -- given nearly all other Macs last year offered a zippier first-gen Intel Core option.
As such, the processor upgrade will be welcomed, and Apple is claiming an up-to-2.5X performance boost, now rendering the Air more suitable for more high-end tasks like photo and video editing. The lack of a discrete graphics card (despite Intel's integrated HD Graphics 3000) means however this still isn't really a great pick for the serious gamer (although it'll handle casual gaming or low-level settings more than comfortably).
In addition to the new CPU and the inclusion of Lion, the other notable upgrades are Thunderbolt
I/O connectivity (which will pair nicely with Apple's also-announced-today Thunderbolt-equipped display, to be available in two months) and a backlit keyboard.
Prices for the new MacBook Air range start at $1,099 ($100 cheaper than the previous entry-level model) with an 11.6-inch display, 1.6GHz CPU, 2GB RAM and 64GB SSD, and top out at $1,799 for a 13.3-inch display, 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD. Further customisations are also available
We'll have more on the new Air -- including its relative value compared to other next-gen ultraportables -- for you as soon as we can.